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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Orange Julius Caesar's Praetorian Guard

by digby

Mitch McConnell was asked about whether it's legitimate for the Democrats to exercise their constitutional duty to oversee the executive:

Question: Democrats have made clear that if they do win back the House, they plan to launch many, many investigations into the president and the administration. They’ve made clear that one of their lines of inquiry is going to be the president’s tax returns, the president’s businesses, the president’s hotel contract. . . . Do you think that’s a legitimate line of inquiry for Democrats to be talking about?

McConnell: I think it’ll help the president get reelected. I remember the price we paid — actually, we did impeach Bill Clinton. I remember all the enthusiasm, lots of Republicans in the House and Senate — “boy, this is the ticket, this is gonna make us have a great year.” . . . It worked exactly the opposite. The public got mad at us. . . . This business of presidential harassment may or may not quite be the winner they think it is.

Wishful thinking and trolling to get Dems to think twice before they conduct any meaningful oversight of Donald Trump. Sadly, it will probably work with some who insist that Democrats need to pass a lot of legislation that will go nowhere and ignore the criminal traitor in the White House. Luckily, most of those people are cable news pundits not people with actual political power.

Greg Sargent nails it with this observation:

McConnell was asked directly whether President Trump’s tax returns and self-dealing constitute a legitimate topic for congressional oversight. He didn’t directly answer, but he did dismissively characterize such an inquiry as “presidential harassment.”

Then AP reporter Julie Pace sought to clarify the majority leader’s position:

Question: Is there anything, though, that you think would be a legitimate investigation into this president or this administration?

McConnell: Well, look, it’ll be up to them to decide what they want to investigate. . . . I do think as a matter of political tactics . . . it would not be smart. But, frequently, they aren’t. Which is helpful.
Again, no answer. Remarkably, this comes just after the New York Times released a major expose revealing that Trump has scooped in hundreds of millions of dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it via extensive “dubious” tax schemes — including instances of outright tax fraud. In some cases, Trump himself was directly involved. This has renewed the urgency of getting a look at Trump’s own tax returns, to see if he has since employed similar schemes.

Democrats have vowed to do all they can to access those tax returns if they regain the majority in either the House or the Senate. They have also signaled that they will try to get them in order to examine Trump’s global business dealings, to determine whether there are any conflicts of interest or other questionable foreign entanglements (*cough* Russia *cough*). But, again, McConnell brushed off any such efforts as mere “harassment.”

Trump family reportedly built wealth through tax schemes, fraud
The White House fired back at a New York Times report that President Trump built his wealth by shielding millions from taxes. (Reuters)

Congressional Republicans keep cheerfully and openly presenting themselves as the alternative to the party that actually does want to exercise congressional oversight. Indeed, in some cases, they have explicitly argued that voters should keep them in charge of Congress to prevent such oversight from ever happening at all.

That's what they are. They are Trump's Praetorian Guard. And they are proud of it.